The Railways’ Utkal Express train derailment, which claimed the lives of 20 people on August 19 is being probed by the Commissioner of Railway Safety. What has come forth was a shocking revelation regarding derailment records that found some brow-raising ”evidence” – The Indian Express has investigated the records. According to the ‘evidence’, before the train arrived, the officials had called the track unsafe. The CSR report claimed that at around 5 pm, more than 45 minutes before the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed near Khatauli, the local Railway official Mohanlal Meena- designated the Permanent Way Inspector (in Khatauli, there are two PWIs and a PWI In charge)- had written a memo to Prakash Chand, Khatauli Station Master. In the memo, the officials had asked for a “traffic block” which is a 15-minute window during in which no trains are allowed so that repair work can be done.
Meena’s last line in the memo says that the tracks are unsafe ”please let us block traffic”, Indian Express reported. This should have alerted the system despite the fact that asking for blocks is a routine affair but using the word ”unsafe” is alarming. According to rules, even the junior-most staffer is allowed to stop a train by raising flags in case a track is called ”unsafe”.
Records reveal that no alarm was raised because Meena allegedly fudged his memo. Meena’s memos show major discrepancies between the original and the carbon copy and not the fact that the discrepancy was pointed out by officials in Delhi. The CRS report blames the station master, the section controller and another Permanent Way Inspector of Khatauli Pradeep Kumar for the accident but says nothing on Meena. According to Indian Express reports, when Meena was questioned about the alleged tampering he refused to say anything, “I have nothing to say to you. The CRS has all the statements.”